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Applying ‘Aftersun’ in Lightroom

If you shoot or edit any kind of portraiture you will eventually end up with images of a lovely model that has been working on his or her tan a little too vigorously and as a result has pretty bad sunburn that can ruin the final image. As you can see in the image below, the lovely Sarah has a sunburned forehead and cheek.

Luckily for us, this is fairly easy to repair in Lightroom with a little understanding of colour using the colour wheel below. The colour of the sunburn on our model has a red/magenta tint that we wish to reduce, to do this we can see on the colour wheel that the colour opposite red/magenta is lime green. By adding green to the sunburn, it will reduce the red/magenta and hence lessen the effects of the sunburn.

In the Develop module, go to the Adjustment Brush [K], making sure all the sliders are set to zero and click on the Color box. I do tend to add a little extra to brightness to offset the darkening that sunburn causes, in this case about +8

When you click on the Color Box a pop out colour sample chart shows itself as below

Sample a colour in the green spectrum, I have chosen a lime green as a starting point and also reduced the saturation to 21%. Now choose an appropriate sized brush size and paint over the sunburnt skin. Pressing [O] will toggle the mask view between preview and the red overlay. The image below shows where I have painted with the mask overlay on.

and with the overlay turned off, we can see that the face now has some seriously green toned skin.

Do not worry too much about the green as the next stage should reduce it so that the skin looks healthy once more. Bring up the Adjustment Brush again and make sure the pin is selected for the area you’ve painted over the sunburn. If the pins are not showing press [H] to reveal/hide them.

Click on the Color box once more and reduce the saturation slider from 21% to a level where the green can not longer be seen. In this case, down to 8%. As can be seen in the image below, the sunburn is no longer an issue.

NB! a further tip is to paint different areas of skin with separate adjustment brushes so that you can vary the saturation based on how burnt the skin is.

With a few further changes such as painting on skin smoothing, adding clarity to the eyes and brightening the image, a final image is produced

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and that it has helped you. Please feel free to comment or ask questions below and I shall be happy to answer them if I can.

About Scot Baston (31 Articles)
Scot Baston is a Commercial & Wedding Photographer that lives on the south coast of Devon, that inspires much of his work. Whether it the technical or emotive sides, Photography is a passion that continues to challenge and inspire.

5 Comments on Applying ‘Aftersun’ in Lightroom

  1. Well this is a very handy tutorial, I spent much longer in the past trying to fix sunburn, so this is gladly received! well done and keep them coming!

  2. hola, queria saber si la pagina se puede ver en español, un saludo

  3. No directamente, pero Google Translate podría ser una ayuda para usted: http://translate.google.com

  4. c.frans wentzel // 04/11/2010 at 12:57 pm //

    Hello, excellent tip !
    I sample the red skin with the color picker and add +180 or -180 to the number obtained, which gives the exact opposite of the burned skin tone!

    Have a nice day

  5. A great tip Frans, Thank you

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